9.19.2005

How to Spend Your Saturday

[los:] you don't look so good. late night? hung over?
[j:] no, i just don't feel great.
[los:] you know what'll cure that...
[j:] no really. i've been having chest pains. last night it was really bad...maybe i had a small heart attack.
[los:] OMG was it during sex??!
[j:] you are so out of control.

moments pass.

[j:] i think i need to go to the emergency room.
[los:] are you serious?!?!
[j:] yeah, i just need to get this checked out.
[los:] okay, let's go.
[j:] nah, i'll be fine.
[los:] you cannot take yourself to the er. how depressing. i'll get the cab.

we got there at 3:45pm. we left at 10:15pm. and those six and a half hours now make up one of my most interesting experiences, well, ever.

first there was the snappily-dressed black woman who called her friend to tell her that "there are people here from kentucky!" and "they were on a bus tour!" and "turtles, it's their daughter's wedding anniversary, too, can you believe it?" next there was the stinky, one-shoed man who came in wearing scrubs & pushing one of those half-sized grocery carts. he had to talk to everyone in the er and make a big scene when he didn't get the right paperwork. i get the feeling he spends a lot of time in there. of course, he & his stink had to sit next to me. we moved seats.

at this point, j is called into the actual er. it's been a little over two hours, and i am now left all alone. here's where it gets good.

not five minutes after j abandons me for chest pains, i hear "motherfuckin' health department called my house and shit - why they gotta call my house - they knew i sick they shoulda told me or given me some medicine or shit..." i look up to see this large black woman, wearing so much fake gold jewelry that i actually had to turn my head, coming right toward me. of course. she is carrying a large pizza, a bag of something that smells like french fries, and a huge coke. "...callin' my house - they knew i got something - motherfuckin' health department gave me tuberculosis and shit - i ain't got no air in my house - it a hundred degrees and i bet i got TB." INSERT AWFUL, HACKING COUGH HERE.

she gets her paperwork, sits down next to me, of course and has calmed down to the point that she is no longer yelling - just talking in a loud voice. then she disappears down the hall, but i can still hear her. she comes back about ten minutes later, walks up to the reception desk, and starts yelling about how no one has called her to be triaged yet.

[TB lady:] why nobody ain't called my name yet?
[nurse lady:] ma'am, we called your name already. no one came.
[TB lady:] well i was on the phone.
[nurse lady:] well, you need to stay right here and wait for us to call you.
[TB lady:] shiiit, well then fine i'll stand right here, RIGHT HERE."
[nurse lady:] no, you need to sit down and wait.

tb lady then comes over to the sitting area and asks for fifty cents. no one budges. she shuffles back to where she was on the phone down the hall and says "don't hang up - i ain't got no more change."

at this point it's been almost three hours and i start to pace. whilst i am walking around, two older gentleman who have been talking football walk by me and ask, "skins gonna win monday, right?" to which i responded, "oh, sorry - i'm a dallas fan." at this point, the man in the redskins jersey SPITS AT MY FEET, i shit you not.

tb lady has now come back & has noticed she has a friend in the waiting room. what a small world! tb lady & her friend are commiserating over the lack of ac in their respective homes.

[TB lady:] ain't got no air. all i got to do is just sit in that hot house & suffer.
(i'm thinking, maybe go outside? buy a fan, instead of a large pizza, fries & a coke?)
[TB lady's friend:] you know you gotta write a letter about that shit...let's go outside and have a cigarette.
[TB lady:] yeah, that's what i need - a cigarette.
MORE AWFUL, HACKING COUGHS.

now j sends me a text to come back into the er with him; at least we'll have safety in numbers. but the authoritative presence of the doctors doesn't slow down any of the action: one man kept screaming at random intervals, i saw the police enter an exam room with a camera and a forensics kit, one person came in with an EMT on his chest doing compressions, i heard a rectal exam, one guy in a wheel chair kept sneaking into the er & hiding in a corner, and TB lady gave her phone number to young, hot, gay guy who had been present for all her yelling & coughing. i'm thinking i probably wouldn't call someone who seems so sick - physically and mentally - but maybe that's just me...

let me tell you, if you're ever bored, give yourself a quick stab in the leg with a dull pencil & head on over to the GW er. you'll be there all night, but you'll never be bored...
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ps - j is just fine. well, as fine as one can be with inexplicable chest pains.